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WW #017: My unqualified Grand Prix commentary

There’s something I want you to know about me that might be a bit surprising… I love watching motorsports.

My affinity for cars started in my pre-teens. I grew up in a very rural community, and one of the things the teenagers used to do to occupy themselves was to get their driver’s licenses as soon as they came of age and buy big V8-powered cars that they’d boar around town in.

There were special parking spots where they'd gather, sometimes with seven or eight V8s in a row. And naturally, they had a standard route they'd all follow through the main street when it was time for an interlude (called "doing a mainy" in Australian).

The roads outside the town were decorated with “wheelies”, playfully criss-crossing over the white lines.

Needless to say, the roaring and the wheelies horrified most of the parents, but for my innocent little heart, the feeling of the vibrations of a big V8 engine reverberating through my body was tantalising.

It was a fun game to guess who was coming up the street by the sound of the exhaust alone.

As kids, my sister and I managed to score some unwanted corporate box tickets for the V8 Supercars when they came through Adelaide one year, and another year I scored free entry again from someone who lived on the track circuit and received them as a courtesy, but was completely disinterested in them. Lucky me.

Talk about reverberations. Those things seemed to ignite something deep in the feeling layers of my body as they raced past. And that speed? Almost unfathomable how someone could drive so fast.

When it came time for me to get my license, I had the opportunity to drive a few borrowed V8s and I am almost embarrassed to tell you how good it felt for me to have that kind of power under my feet. Whoa.

Enough reminiscing… back to motor sports. Of course you know there is a moral of the story coming.

So, the Formula 1 I find particularly exciting!

Not because I understand all the rules and the technology inside these incredible machines.

But because I love witnessing high-performance minds in action.

I want to invite you into my personal reflections on what I observed on the Dutch circuit last weekend, taking place just a short distance from my home city of Amsterdam.

I caught the start to the F2, where only a few laps in the red flags went out because Logan Sargeant crashed.

It was his second time leaving the track in what felt like a really short amount of time (under 4 laps of a short circuit).

What happened?

The 21 year old driver started on the grid in third position, and he started hungry. Not long into the race, he was coming into a corner and seemed to misjudge his braking, ending up in the dirt and returning to the track near the end of the pack.

When he came back, at least to me, he didn't come back hungry. He came back pissed. It seemed as though he needed to make up for lost ground.

The aggressive move he pulled didn't pay off, and he clipped another driver before spearing off the track again and into a wall. There was a piece of it attached to the front of his car as it was hoisted from the track at Zandvoort.

What a shame.

An ambitious young gun who is soon to have his F1 debut for Williams in front of a home crowd in the US. He really was carrying a lot going into this race.

Watching this unfold had me thinking about how tough racing is mentally.

I don't know about you, but when I make mistakes I have a tendency to do the same thing as Sargeant if I don’t check myself. I accelerate my speed and try to make up for what I've done, attempting to correct it so that I don't feel like I’ve failed. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it really does not work. Sometimes, I find the wall, too. Most of the time I don't have millions of people watching, which is nice.

I also have to think back to my days playing ball sports, when I’d make a crappy pass and the other team would take possession, I’d go bananas trying to intercept the ball back.

Does this pattern remind you of anything? Do you recognise yourself? Someone else?

We all get to be compassionate with ourselves, including Sarge. But professionally speaking, when you are driving an F2 car, you don't have room for that kind of clumsiness in your emotions (assuming my story resembles what actually happened... because this is just my unqualified interpretation remember).

You need complete focus and un-attachment. You need razor-sharp presence. You need to be able to regulate your emotional response to what happened and do it quickly. Very quickly.

For best results, you need to let go of the judgments you’re holding about what happened and get back to the present moment, pronto.

The Netherlands’ own Max Verstappen role-modelled this well-practised emotional regulation later in the day, with a pit lane strategy decision resulting in him needing to make a pass of Hamilton from Mercedes in the final minutes. His voice on the radio was calm and paced. He did it, almost too easily.

Thankfully for us regular people, generally the mistakes we make in our lives allow for more time to take a deep breath, check ourselves, and respond rather than react. Yet, many don't. Sometimes because they don’t know how. Sometimes because it’s not yet “embodied” (meaning so well-practised that it happens automatically, independent of context).

Emotional regulation is a skill, it can be learned. Sure, sometimes we need to clear out some other "stuff" first. But we can all learn to interface with life more powerfully by developing the skills required to mediate and regulate our emotional responses.

Do you see opportunity for that in your life?

Last week we spoke about energy management. I want you to think about emotional regulation as an energy management resource, too. Because after all, emotions are energy-in-motion.

Thanks Max and Sarge for the profound reflection moment. In a "game" that requires high performance, skill is essential. But emotional regulation is a superpower (letting you in on a little secret... it is for you, too!).

Looking forward to see Sargeant in the coming years. He’s already pretty epic. I reckon he will be one to watch.

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How can I help?

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